Analysis shows charters underperform in Ohio's big 8

Every year, the state of Ohio releases an enormous amount of district- and school-level performance data. Since Ohio has among the largest charter school populations in the nation, the data provide an opportunity to examine performance differences between charters and regular public schools in the state.

Ohio’s charters are concentrated largely in the urban “Ohio 8” districts (sometimes called the “Big 8”): Akron; Canton; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Columbus; Dayton; Toledo; and Youngstown. Charter coverage varies considerably between the “Ohio 8” districts, but it is, on average, about 20 percent, compared with roughly five percent across the whole state. I will therefore limit my quick analysis to these districts.
In short, there are significant differences between charters and regular public schools in the likelihood that they receive different ratings, even controlling for the student characteristics mentioned above. To make things simpler, let’s take a look at how “being a charter school” affects the predicted probability of receiving ratings using three different “cutoff” points: The odds of schools receiving the rating of “continuous improvement” or better; “effective” or better; and “excellent” or better. The graph below represents the change in probability for charter schools.

The difference between the two types of schools in the probability of receiving “excellent” or better (-0.02, or two percent) is small and not statistically significant. The other two differences, on the other hand, are both large and significant. Charter schools are 13 percent less likely to receive a rating of “effective” or better, and they are 22 percent less likely to receive “continuous improvement” or better.

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